There is an abundance of skill and creativity among artisans in emerging economies, and they are creating beautiful products. But many artisans face extraordinary challenges when trying to build their businesses and expand into the international marketplace. Isolation and, as a result, little or no access to information about standard business practices, or how to get products to market, have prevented thousands, maybe even millions, of artisans from accessing the rapidly growing international market for handmade and authentic products. Lack of design, inefficient production methods, underdeveloped business practices and little access to finance and logistics, along with lack of market information often prevents even very talented artisans from growing their businesses.
To address these challenges Far + Wide Collective has developed what we call The Artisan Toolkit. The Artisan Toolkit is a richly illustrated training manual, using local cartoons and other visual cues to outline the value chain and show artisans the path to markets for their handmade products. The Toolkit is also available in audio modules, which are delivered through mobile phone networks, MP3 players, local radio or TV to ensure that it is accessible to artisans with low levels of literacy. The first Artisan Toolkit edition is now available to Afghan artisans. The Artisan Toolkit has two levels, Level 1 for artisans that would like to start a business and Level 2 to support artisans with existing small craft business.
We launched the Artisan Toolkit in April 2015 by training 200 women on the concepts, and distributing nearly 2000 copies.